I got my DXCC award in just 8 months with 1 radio on a single band (20 Mtrs.) Dipole Antenna (Homebrewed). I had 780 QSO, and got 525 confirmed QSL, with 101 unique countries. I got my DXCC award on ARRL LoTW, QRZ.com and eQSL.cc also.
Reaching 60 was a hot piece of cake, from 60 to 80 it was a hard time, things start getting slow. From 80 to 95 I ran out of patience, countries start coming into my dreams, once I was travelling, at the airport I started counting the city (country names) on the departure and arrival boards and find out which country I needed for my DXCC.
I opened Google Map 10 times a day. I got introduced to tiny little island countries, which I might not have even heard of until now. I forgot festivals, I didn’t care about anybody’s birthday and all. From 95 to 100 it’s like a full-scale assault, a hungry beast I was, looking out in the wide open.
This is the period where I become a sniper. When I was hanging at 98 or 99, I all of a sudden become happy, it was unusual. I could see the success coming. And then one day I got that 100th QSL confirmation, and that’s it. If you are interested in my story, please read on.
It was the first week of February 2017, when I got the delivery of My Radio after testing in the Shack of a very senior ham Mr Dosu Paymaster (VU2NP – Silent Key). A 20-year-old radio; Yaesu FT840 from a Ham referred by my Sir Mr Sudhir Shah (VU2SVS). At such a low price, it was a gift given to me by my sir.
The next day I installed a 20 Meters home-brewed dipole on my terrace above the 7th floor, which was connected with an LMR-400 cable (32 Meters long) coming to my shack on the 4th floor. At 17:25 hrs I heard someone giving a CQ Call on 14.200, to which I replied immediately with a lot of mistakes. The next few seconds is something I am going to always remember for my life. This was when Mr Vinod K. (VU2VID) replying from Kerela (Southern State in India). I was amazed, and after few seconds I responded.
He immediately recognised that I am new to HF, and didn’t have experience. We exchanged details about our radio & antenna and sent out 73. That was my first ever QSO on HF. That day I made two more calls (DX) first one was (A41RN – Oman) and (A61AS – UAE). I was so happy that I went out and treated myself to Double Cheese Grill Sandwich, while I was waiting for my order, I made a phone call to my Guru Mr Sudhir Shah, and gave him the update of my First HF QSO and first DX-Call. His words, I remember even today was “Shabbash” (Good Job) he said.
While returning home, I promised myself that no matter what, but I will have my DXCC Award Certificate, I took a challenge, and the journey began. The DXCC is awarded to those hams who have successfully contacted 100 countries with a confirmed QSL. For the next couple of months, I would wait for 5 pm every day, the time when 20 meters band is open, I would hunt new entities for the DXCC Award. I made contacts in Europe, Africa, Middle East, Japan, and Singapore.
This way I was able to get 28 countries with QSL confirmation. But band conditions going from bad to worse, I was not able to touch North America, South America & Oceania. If I had continued working on SSB ONLY, it would have taken me years to finish the DXCC Award challenge.
Amongst my many visits to Lamington Road (Electronics & Components market in Mumbai) along with a Ham friend Mr Charudatt Uplap (VU2UPX) also one of my gurus, I met this gentleman Mr Ajaya Gupta (VU2DED). Though I had met him a couple of years back in a Hamfest (Hyderabad).
He has won a lot of awards in Contests like CQ, CQ WPX, Russian and many more repeatedly. That day I requested him if I can come down to his place and if he could share his knowledge with me about digital modes, which he wholeheartedly agreed to.
Next week Charu sir and I visited Ajaya Sir. He not only shared his knowledge but taught us the complete process with a live demonstration. He also explained about the Logbook software that is Ham Radio Deluxe, which he used for regular QSO and Contest also.
This is the best software I must say. That same night I had installed that software on my PC and started configuring it. Soon I realised that I do not have the CAT Cable (which is a must for RIG Control and all digital modes). After some research on the internet, I ordered the CAT cable from ZLP Electronics (UK).
The cable arrived at my place on the 8th day (London to Mumbai), it’s a good cable and still working perfectly. The next thing I ordered was a Digital Interface (Sound Card) for Digital modes like FT8, JT65, PSK31, RTTY and all. After doing research, I found this guy Talos on eBay (Greece), who ship their items from Bulgaria.
I ordered this Interface, which reached my place in just six days. This was the Month of April 2017. The next day onwards my entire schedule got changed. I woke up early morning at 5.45 every day and sat in my Shack waiting for stations from North America, South America, and Oceania.
It’s a small window of around 45 minutes that you get between 6 to 6.45 am wherein you get hams from these continents on 20 Meters Band. My first hit was Canada, and here I am talking about JT65. I transmitted a full cycle of 48 seconds on MAX Power (100 watts) on JT65 and got this Ham from Canada.
Next minute I wrote an email, so thrilled that I couldn’t stop myself expressing my joy. After 2 hrs I got his reply expressing he cannot believe he got India. And he did the QSL same-day on LoTW and eQSL. (Please Note: QRZ.com accepts the Confirmed QSL of LoTW for their awards. In the next couple of months, I got 14 countries from these three continents including the USA, Colombia, Argentina, Australia and many more.
I took a break at 8 am every day, and did my morning business (bathing, washing, breakfast, prayers and finished my professional work by noon). I would then have my lunch quickly and sit on the shack waiting for the New DXCC entity. I then continue doing it till 10 pm, sometimes at 11 pm if the band is open.
In the middle of all this, I came across a station from Antarctica; it was a German weather station permanently based in Antarctica. I had a QSO, and the QSL was confirmed after two months. I always called and spoke to my Guru Mr Sudhir Shah every 15 days and kept him updated on my DXCC Award figures.
He knew, and he had a trust that I would do it. I was so obsessed with chasing the DXCC Award that I slept less and worked hard. I remember the words of my Guru Mr Sudhir Shah, who said “It is Half Madness” and appreciated my state of mind, and accepted that such a thing is necessary if you want to achieve something outstanding in your life. You need to give in everything you have, he said.
I also remember Charu sir telling me a couple of times “Hitesh, it looks like you are on steroids, pause for a while and take a breath, don’t get mad in this ham radio hobby.” to which I just smiled. Though I completed my DXCC in the 2nd week of September 2017. It was the first week of November 2017 I received my DXCC Award Certificate from ARRL, and I called my sir Mr Sudhir Shah and gave him the news.
He was stunned and expressed his happiness, and he said he wants to see the certificate. I visited him that day, I touched his feet and said “Sir, I told you, I will make you proud one day. Here is what you wanted to see.” He said, “Yes, I am proud of you Hitesh, you did it”. While chasing for DXCC Award from ARRL, I got my DXCC Award from eQSL and QRZ also. I also got three more awards that are “Prefix – 300”, “Continents”, “Grid Square”.
So, this was my journey to achieve the DXCC Award, which I never in my wildest dream would have thought of achieving. But it was because of a few gentlemen I was able to do it. They played a very important role in my hobby.
I thank my first Guru Mr Sudhir Shah (VU2SVS), my second Guru Mr Ajaya Gupta (VU2DED), my third Guru Mr Charudatt Uplap (VU2UPX), my 4th Guru Mr Saurabh Sanghai (VU2THH) and my ham friends, Mr Sailin Gudhka (VU2SGW) and Mr Satheesh Menon (VU2WSM).
Most importantly I am very thankful to my wife for supporting me in my Hobbies. This was not possible without you.
73, De VU2NFJ